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[Important] Atlantic Council: How to Kill a Disinformation Narrative (Follow up to the rule change thread)

Please read this.

This is a follow-up to my thread last week imposing the new rule about serious comments. (Rule #2 in the sidebar).

[[Effective Immediately] New Rule: Top 10 Comments Must Be [Serious] | + The Gentleperson’s Guide to Forum Spies and Online Disinformation](

On March 8, 2019, Ben Nimmo, senior fellow for information defense at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, spoke at the Atlantic Council Disinfo Week event in Brussels, Belgium.


>The [Atlantic Council]( is a U.S. think tank focused on international affairs. Of the [1800+]( think tanks in the U.S. it is consistently ranked as one of the most influential in the world. Usually appearing in the top 20 or top 50. ^[1](

>It has a centrist political orientation. [John Huntsman]( was named Chairman in January 2014. He also became the [Ambassador to Russia on Oct 7, 2017]( During his Senate confirmation hearings, Huntsman said, “There is no question that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year” adding, “Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies.” ^[1]( He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, via voice vote.

#The article points out that mere fact checking is not enough to stop the propaganda war we are facing and that information warfare is less powerful than and a subset of narrative warfare.


>When trying to stop the spread of disinformation by malign foreign and domestic actors online, “it’s not enough to do the fact-checking,” according to Ben Nimmo. To really kill the power of the disinformation, “we have to do the story telling,” he argued.

>Nimmo suggested that too many policy makers are focused on disinformation as an information warfare problem rather than “narrative warfare.” It is not access to better or new information that is making Russian and domestic extremist propaganda more successful online, Nimmo said, quite the contrary. “We have the facts,” Nimmo explained, but “they have the stories.”

>“It’s much easier to tell a story when you are not [bound] by the facts,” he said. Rather, the narratives pushed by the bots and trolls are the more dangerous weapons. “They try to make you so angry and so scared that you stop thinking,” according to Nimmo. “And once you stop thinking, they’ve got you.”

>**Nimmo suggested that media groups and civil society organizations, such as the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, can also push out their own narratives, which can be just as compelling as those pushed out by the propagandists. “We in the open-source community have to speak [to readers’] interest and curiosity…and we have to seek to empower,” he said. Nimmo suggested that counterdisinformation experts should expose propaganda and disinformation campaigns in the style of whodunits: taking the reader step-by-step through the process of discovering and identifying the sources of the disinformation and those spreading it. “Share the how,” Nimmo argued. “[Take] the reader on the journey.”**

>Nimmo explained it is easy to teach readers how to identify and expose disinformation, mainly by teaching them the “three A’s” of disinformation: activity, anonymity, and amplification. Malign online actors often use social media profiles that post much more often than humanly possible (activity), have no verifiable personal information (anonymity), and primarily share content that is not original to that specific profile (amplification).

>**“If you can teach one person to do this,” Nimmo argued, “you can make them resilient to disinformation, but you are [also] going to make our whole [counterdisinformation] community that much bigger and that much stronger.”** If Western civil society and media groups can transform the presence of propaganda online from dangerous distortions to fodder for compelling mystery dramas, Nimmo said, **“the greater chance we will have of actually not just dealing with information warfare, but of dealing with narrative warfare, which is a much more dangerous threat.”**

There are many issues which can be targeted by propagandists. Most occur spontaneously in the news and are latched onto by these groups, but many are culturally ingrained and constantly attacked in order to sow chaos and division. A large but inevitably incomplete list can be found here:

##[The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia]( was published in 1997 and has had a large influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites and it has been used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military. ^[1]( ^[2]( On the topic of the U.S. it says:

>**Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke “Afro-American racists”. Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”**

We have to fight back one narrative at a time. A powerful example that I recently came across is a [comment]( by /u/baronvoncommentz that calls out Putin for the weak criminal thug that he is as opposed to the myth that he has built around himself of being a strongman riding bears shirtless and wanting the best for the Russian people. Adjusting the narrative with the correct information is a powerful tactic in order to combat narratives created out of false information.

[Image of comment]( on the r/worldnews thread: [Russia bans ‘disrespect’ of government](

So when you see a troll, suspected propagandist, or misinformed person online, the worst thing you can do is ignore them as it allows their narrative to remain unopposed. Engage them, and don’t just dispute the facts, but be creative in how you adjust the narrative to the truth. This has opened up my eyes to a different take on our battle and I wanted to share it with all of you in hope that you can help in the struggle as well. Cheers and thank you for reading.

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One thought on “[Important] Atlantic Council: How to Kill a Disinformation Narrative (Follow up to the rule change thread)

  1. ###Please keep all comments [serious] and on topic according to rule #2. Non-serious comments can be made under this stickied comment, or after the 10/5 requirement.


    **(A)** In order to prevent [FORUM SLIDING]( or [TOPIC DILUTION](, the top 10 comments to any thread must be [serious] and on topic. **(B)** The top 5 child comments to the top 10 comments must abide by the same guideline. **(C)** Non-serious or non-related comments may be posted under the stickied mod comment on the top of any thread, or after the first 10/5. If a mod has not done so yet, please refrain until it is up. [[Serious] Tag Explained]( **(1)** Do not post anything off-topic or any jokes, **(2)** Downvote any comments violating that, and **(3)** Report those comments as well. |

    Please see this thread for more info: [ The Gentleperson’s Guide to Forum Spies and Online Disinformation](


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